Good news is that you will compete with only a few other applicants for a position of a system analyst (sometimes you can actually be the only job candidate they interview on a given day).
The bad news is that you can expect a complex interview, consisting of behavioral and technical questions, and short case studies that will test your readiness for the job.
Everything depends on the interviewer–and their level of technical skills
Whether technical or behavioral questions prevail depends on the person who leads an interview with you. A CTO, or other senior IT officer, or an external recruiter specializing on IT recruitment, will ask mostly technical questions.
Any other person (HR generalist, HR manager, CEO of the company, external recruiter who doesn’t specialize on IT etc.) will focus on behavioral questions (and easy technical questions), becasue they don’t have the capacity to interpret your answers to difficult technical questions, and to assess your technical skills accordingly.
In most cases you will actually have to pass two interview sessions (or even three), one with an HR person, and another one with a technical expert. Questions will be different in each interview.
Behavioral and screening questions (interview with an HR person)
- Why system analyst? (Focus on your education and experience in the field. Tell them that you enjoy doing what system analysts typically do in work, that your work is also your passion. You can also say why you apply for a job with them–complimenting them for the good work they do, for their corporate values, their products, reputation, or basically anything that caught your eye on their job description.)
- What motivates you in this job? (System Analysts earn a lot, but money should not represent your primary motivation in work. Try to focus on something else. For example, you can say that you find it fascinating to help the company to improve the efficiency of their business process, or even the overall results of the business, by improving the way they work with information technology in the company.)
- Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work. (Try to stay relevant. You can talk about a situation when you had to troubleshoot a network, or a device, in a short time. Or you can talk about something else. The most important thing is to show them that you can handle the pressure, that you do not panic, or collapse, when the workload is heavy.)
Describe a conflict you had with your colleague. (The same applies to this question–your attitude matters more than the situation you describe. One of the most important duties of System Analyst is to motivate other people working in the company to change the way they work with information systems, and to train them how to do it. Most people are reluctant to change, and conflicts pop up on a regular basis. Try to show us that you are aware of the fact, and that you do your best to solve the conflict with your friendly and empathic approach to each person in the company.)
- Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service.
- Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it. (If you can, speak about the goal of a company–and not your personal goal. For example, you can talk about an objective you set–to solve a certain business problem with the help of information technology, and how you proceeded on your way of achieving this goal.)
- Describe a situation when you did not agree with the opinion (or decision) of your superior or supervisor, and knew that they were wrong. How did you handle that?
Describe a situation when you faced a particularly demanding problem or challenge in your personal life. How did that affect you in your job? (It is virtually impossible to completely separate our work, and our personal life. But you should still try your best to tell us how you managed. Perhaps you can say that you find refugee in work in difficult times, that you manage to forget your personal problems when you got completely involved in the task at hand.)
- Describe a time when you struggled with motivation in job (it was repetitive, you did not enjoy your duties, there was no work to do, etc). How did you overcome the crisis?
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a customer. How did you manage to get your message over? (This is something that happens quite often in a job of a system analyst. You will have to describe technical matters in a simple way, often to people who can’t tell the difference between software and hardware…. The key is to show us that you are patient, and that you use all possible means of explanation, such as charts, presentation, demonstration, etc. to get your message over.)
- Describe a difficult decision you had to make in your professional career. How did making the decision affect you?
- Describe the biggest failure of your professional career. (Failure is an integral part of success, and we learn in difficult times–when things do not go the way we want them to go. Try to show us the right attitude in your answer. Show us that you consider each failure a lesson, and that you are not afraid of failures.)
Technical questions (interview with an IT expert)
- If we hire you, what will be the first thing you do in your job?
- Considering the size of our company, and what we do here, what ERP solution would you suggest for us, and why?
- How often do you think the systems should be updated?
- Tell me about your latest process engineering experience. How did it impact the company you worked for?
- What firewall do you use, and tell us why.
- What is your experience with network engineering? Do you prefer solutions from CISCO, Juniper, or other, and why do you prefer them.
- How do you monitor the cost efficiency of IT systems?
- Explain hat a spoofed packet is, and try to do it in a simple language, so a person with minimal knowledge of IT will understand you.
- Short case study: Some production processes have changed in the company the last month. The current ERP (name of the ERP) can not handle the changes. What steps would you take in this case?
* The case studies will differ from company to company, depending on the job description, and on the expectation the managers have on a new System Analyst.
Preparing the answers for the questions
The job description, and some research you do about the company prior to the interview, should help you to foresee the technical questions–at least to certain extent.
Nevertheless, you won’t succeed in answering technical questions, unless you really understand the job of a system analyst.
The situation differs with behavioral and screening questions–the one you will deal with in first rounds of interviews.
These questions are more-less the same in every interview, becasue employees experience the same situations in work, regardless of their role (managers, blue collars, IT specialists, secretaries–all of them experience conflicts with their colleagues, pressure in work, tight deadlines, goals they have to achieve (and sometimes fail to achieve), etc)
If you would like to learn how to answer the thirty most common screening and behavioral interview questions, check our Interview Success Package. An in-detail analysis of each question, and multiple brilliant answers to each question, will help you to relax, and to prepare for the big day.
Other articles you may find interesting
- IT & Technology – Various IT jobs, interview questions for programming languages and technology jobs.
- Group interview – Are you invited to interview in as group? Learn how this experience differs to a typical one on one meeting, and how you can make a best possible impression on the hiring managers.
- Job interview etiquette – Regardless of your approach to the interviews, and your strategy in the meetings with the employers, certain borders should not be crossed.
- How to answer interview questions – It is not only about what you say, but also how you say it in an interview. an interesting article that will help you to understand how to make a right impression on the hiring managers.